We're deep into February, and it's peak season for getting a nasty cold if you haven't already. When your health takes a dip—and once you've finally resigned yourself to taking a day off from work so you can hack and sneeze in solitude—put that time at home to good use by concocting a long-beloved cure-all: chicken soup. If you're willing to branch out from your grandmother's recipe (whatever special powers it undoubtedly has), you have plenty of options for turning classic chicken soup into something a little more interesting. Vietnamese pho ga is my personal favorite when I'm under the weather, but you can also give it a Colombian, Thai, or Mexican twist (chilies are great for clearing the sinuses!). Whether you truly need a home remedy or just want a comforting bowl to stave off the cold, keep these 17 chicken soup recipes close at hand.
Escarole and Parmesan Soup With Chicken Meatballs
This soup doubles up on chicken flavor by adding mini chicken meatballs to a broth infused with diced aromatics. A Parmesan rind lends body and depth to the broth, and chopped escarole gives the soup a nice pop of color, plus extra nutrition to get you back in top shape.
Chicken and "Slick" Dumplings
"Slick" refers to dumplings that are more like thin sheets of pasta dough, and they're so called because of their tendency to slip and slide around in the broth (and in your spoon). In this version, we roll out biscuit dough, cut it into squares, and simmer the squares in a simple, chicken-rich soup. The dumplings puff up just a little, but stay satisfyingly chewy, and the excess flour thickens up the soup beautifully.
Black Bean Soup With Chorizo and Braised Chicken
A hearty, rib-sticking stew flavored with smoky chorizo and chipotle chilies, with black beans for additional heft. A slurry made from a portion of sausage and beans blended together thickens up the soup and helps to emulsify the fat released by the meat. Serve this with serrano peppers, scallion greens, cilantro, avocado, and lime for brightness, and crema to soften the heat.
The Best White Chili With Chicken
Three kinds of chilies flavor this creamy chili of white beans and tender chicken: jalapeños, poblanos, and grassy Anaheims (or Hatch chilies, if you're lucky enough to have access to them). To give the stew a nice smokiness, we char the chilies—plus onion and garlic—under the broiler.
The Best Matzo Ball Soup
Like your matzo balls heavy and dense? Light and airy? Somewhere in between? Our recipe, which uses optional seltzer and baking powder for extra lightness, allows you to find your ideal matzo ball texture. Use rendered chicken fat (a.k.a. schmaltz) for the most flavorful result, or vegetable oil for convenience.
Masa Ball Soup (Mexican Corn Dumplings in Chicken Soup)
This soup is in no way traditional—that much should be obvious from the name—but it sure is delicious. We make the dumplings out of masa harina and lard to give them a tamale-like flavor and texture. They float in a soup of homemade chicken broth, with a Mexican flair from jalapeño, lime juice, and cilantro.
DIY Chicken and Dill Instant Noodles
If you're feeling a bit cold-y, but still need to get to the office, take your chicken soup to go with these homemade instant noodles. Just fill a resealable glass jar with par-cooked noodles, shredded roast chicken, a chicken base (like Better Than Bouillon), and vegetables. Refrigerate the jar, and, at lunchtime, top it off with boiling water. After two minutes, you'll have a steaming little pot of soup that will make you the envy of all your coworkers, and set you on your way to smashing that case of the sniffles.
Real-Deal Tortilla Soup
Too often, the tortilla soup you'll find at a basic Tex-Mex restaurant is a sad affair that tastes something like industrial salsa mixed with chicken stock. Our version, meanwhile, is infused with all the flavor of bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts, whole dried ancho chilies, and fresh tomatoes and corn. A garnish of avocado, scallions, lime, and tortilla strips adds welcome creamy, pungent, tangy, and crunchy accents.
Easy Creamy Chicken Enchilada Soup
Thick with cheese and studded with corn and black beans, this rich soup goes down like Tex-Mex enchiladas in liquid form. Using a purée of whole dried chilies instead of chili powder gives the soup tons of earthy, spicy flavor, and a mix of pepper jack cheese and cream cheese lends extra creaminess. Hey—you're sick! You need this fatty sustenance!
Colombian Chicken Stew With Potatoes, Tomato, and Onion
Pressure cookers are terrific at extracting liquid from ingredients, which makes them incredibly useful for making stews. For this one, based on a typical Colombian dish, we use a whole chicken, potatoes, tomatoes, and an onion—and no added water or stock at all. All of the liquid is drawn from those four ingredients, and their flavors are intensely concentrated in the resulting rich broth.
30-Minute Pressure Cooker Pho Ga (Vietnamese Chicken Noodle Soup)
Traditional pho has to simmer for hours, but with a pressure cooker, you can make a version that takes just 30 minutes, start to finish. A heady mix of spices and aromatics, plus chicken drumsticks, yields a fragrant broth rich with gelatin and fall-off-the-bone-tender meat. The soup is fortified with pho noodles and bright garnishes like cilantro, scallions, bean sprouts, and hot Thai chilies.
Real-Deal Khao Soi Gai (Northern Thai Coconut Curry Noodle Soup With Chicken)
If you're in the market for a simple, Americanized "Thai-style" recipe—well, this is not the soup you're looking for. This is a labor of love that will require a trip to a well-stocked Asian market and a few hours of work, but the reward is an intense soup with incomparable flavor and creamy texture. It's loaded with coconut milk and aromatics like fresh turmeric, lemongrass, makrut lime leaves, and Thai black cardamom. The fire supplied by the ginger and Thai bird chilies is sure to clear your stuffy head even as the broth warms your belly.
20-Minute Thai Red Curry Noodle Soup With Chicken
On the other hand, you don't need two hours and a long list of exotic ingredients to make a delicious Thai soup. Made with Thai red curry paste, fish sauce, lime juice, and sugar, this dish comes together in just 20 minutes, using mainly items you probably already have in your fridge. If you don't have Thai rice noodles, you can make do with thin spaghetti.
Arroz Caldo (Filipino Chicken and Rice Soup)
Arroz caldo is a Filipino chicken congee that gives American chicken noodle soup a run for its money as a treatment for the common cold. The primary flavoring agents are simple but comforting: ginger, garlic, and fish sauce. Use chicken thighs instead of breasts if you can—they'll come out tenderer—and don't omit the garnish of fried minced garlic on top, which is one of the best parts of the dish.
Easy Chicken and Ginger Soup With Rice Cakes, Chives, and Quick-Pickled Garlic
Loosely inspired by Korean samgyetang, this simple soup starts with a whole chicken hacked into pieces—it's better for flavor extraction than just cooking a whole bird. It gets plenty of bright flavor from ginger, garlic, onion, and scallions. The slippery glutinous rice cakes called dduk are a great accompaniment—and soothing to a sore throat besides—but you can also use white rice.
Spicy Chicken Noodle Soup With Lime and Ginger
If you crave spice when you're sick, like I do, this Thai chili–laced soup will feel like potent medicine going down. An intense broth, flavored with chicken bones, aromatics, and smoked ham, is finished with carrots, onions, and cabbage, fish sauce, soy sauce, and lime juice. It's garnished with picked fresh mint leaves, cilantro leaves, and scallion greens, which nicely offset the soup's rich meaty flavors.
Wonton Noodle Soup With Chicken and Shiitakes
Even though this soup is made with chicken, the mushrooms are the true star. We use dried shiitakes, rehydrated in room-temperature water for eight hours, then tossed with cornstarch and sugar and simmered in their soaking liquid for a velvety texture and a deep flavor. Don't have that much time for soaking? A 30-minute bath in boiling water will still work well.